Introducing Professor Frank Cottrell Boyce…and more Unforgotten Coat success

Here at The Reader Organisation we’re reading a range of very interesting things on a daily basis, but we were especially thrilled to read this great piece in the Education Guardian all about TRO patron, supporter and great friend Frank Cottrell Boyce becoming Professor of Reading and Communication – the first professorship of its kind in the country – at Liverpool Hope University.  

Frank’s appointment to the professorial position came about thanks to his involvement with our Hope Readers project, specifically through a series of Faculty of Education Level C keynote lectures on the subject of ‘Why Books Matter’ that he delivered during the past academic year. In the prestigious role, Frank hopes to pass on the key message of reading for pleasure to trainee teachers, who he will be helping to coach, in order to reinvent the role of reading in schools from a purely educational purpose to one that also includes reading for sheer enjoyment. He explains:

“That was why I wanted to get to Hope and spread the word and get teachers reading again. Sometimes people don’t know what to read; it’s a question of sharing what’s good.”

The article also highlights Frank’s journey as an author and storyteller, bringing up some incredibly intriguing anecdotes and his most frequently asked questions – as well as ones that are slightly more unpredictable – from the talks he has given to school children with The Reader Organisation.

And there’s even more reason for Frank and The Reader Organisation to celebrate as we’ve also received the news that The Unforgotten Coat – the story that Frank wrote exclusively for Our Read 2011 – has made the longlist for the Guardian children’s fiction prize 2012. The prize is to be awarded in November, so we’re all keeping our fingers crossed…The Guardian is on the lookout for children and young people to submit 200 word reviews of the eight longlisted books, including The Unforgotten Coat, so if you know a young person who loved the story, make sure you direct them to the site. There’s also a brilliant review of the book by Lottie Longshanks on the Guardian website.

Frank also appeared on BBC Breakfast this morning, talking about the importance of reading for pleasure and a little bit about his new professorship.

The Unforgotten Coat shortlisted in Costa Book Awards

Absolutely fantastic news – The Unforgotten Coat, the book written exclusively for The Reader Organisation for Our Read 2011 by the brilliant Frank Cottrell Boyce, has been included in the shortlist for the Costa Book Awards 2011!

Running since 1971 (when they were known as the Whitbread Literary Awards), the Costa Book Awards are one of the biggest and most prestigious literary prizes in the UK, recognising a range of the most widely enjoyable books of the year by writers based in the UK and Ireland. The awards are also unique for being the only literary prize which places an equal emphasis on children’s books alongside adult literature.

The Unforgotten Coat has been nominated in the Children’s Book category. The accolade tops off what has been an amazing year for Our Read, with 50,000 copies of the book captivating hundreds of thousands of children (and adults) across the UK – and beyond (we’ve received postcards from Our Read readers as far afield as Spain, Argentina, Australia, Bulgaria and Hong Kong). The Our Read launch day took a special reading train from Liverpool to London and back (with Frank himself on board) and since then, there’s been tons of other events centered around The Unforgotten Coat. We’d like to offer our congratulations to Frank for this honour and thank him for ‘giving’ the book to Our Read – we couldn’t have done it without him.

The category winners will be announced on 4th January 2012. For more information on the awards, visit the Costa Book Awards website.

Frank Cottrell Boyce at the Southbank Centre

Frank Cottrell Boyce will bring his story of a Bootle schoolgirl and her friendship with two Mongolian brothers to the heart of London this month when he appears at the Southbank Centre to talk about The Unforgotten Coat, which he kindly wrote for The Reader Organisation for this year’s Our Read campaign.

Frank will read excerpts from the book and talk about his inspiration for writing it and his love of storytelling, as well as answering questions from the audience – so if you want to know more about this brilliant book then why not go down and ask the man himself!

The event takes place at 6.30pm on Tuesday 29 November in London’s Southbank Centre, and is suitable for ages ten and over. Tickets cost £8 – you can find more information here.

The Unforgotten Coat Makes a Splash in America

Thanks to this year’s Our Read book giveaway, tens of thousands of people in the UK and beyond have read and enjoyed Frank Cottrell Boyce’s The Unforgotten Coat, and now it seems that our stateside cousins are also relishing the adventures of Chingis and Nergui.

Frank’s story about the two Mongolian brothers who arrive in Bootle and enlist a local schoolgirl as their ‘good guide’ to the area has been warmly reviewed by Betsy Bird of the Fuse #8 blog, who suggests that it might be his best novel and describes the book as:

the kind of book you get when an author gets an original idea and works it into something memorable. This is one story kids will read and then find difficult to forget.

Bird also praises the distinctive layout of the book, with its notebook-style page design and inventive use of Polaroid photographs, combined with Frank’s deft storytelling abilities:

Few authors have a way of turning you over on your head in the course of reading a children’s title. Boyce can. Can and does. This is, without a doubt, one of the best little books I’ve ever read. A brilliant melding of text and image, it’s a wonderful example of what can happen when an author goes for something entirely new.

The story has also caught the eye of Meghan Cox Gurdon in the Wall Street Journal, who praised the book’s positive approach to foreign cultures and described it as:

a funny and affecting book for children ages 10 to 14

So if you haven’t read The Unforgotten Coat yet then we can only encourage you to do so, whatever age you are!

Reading Aloud at the Just So Festival

Our Young Person’s Project Manager Samantha Shipman tells us about Our Read’s summer festival experience

Our Read went down to the Just So Festival in Staffordshire last Friday to share the magic of The Unforgotten Coat.  The Just So Festival kindly invited the project to come along and run shared read aloud sessions throughout the day, and they even gave us some free tickets so we could bring two of the young people we work with to the festival. Jessica and Tina had a lovely day exploring the festival site and all it had to offer – they made clay faces, origami penguins, played in the Just So Festival beach, watched live music, and helped us spread the reading revolution by taking part in our group reading sessions and giving out copies of The Unforgotten Coat to people around the site.

The Yurt that we were going to run the reading sessions in was unfortunately out of action…

However it didn’t dampen our spirits, and the glorious sunshine and woodlands made a perfect setting to read in. 

We were hoping that we would see some exciting wildlife in the woods, and we did see a rabbit during one of our walks around the site, but our main wildlife experience was an unusual amount of wasps which enjoyed dive-bombing me… I think my reaction of running away as fast as my legs would carry me kept lots of people entertained.

We all had a really lovely day, and met lots of people who enjoyed sharing the book with us and hearing more about the project – hopefully Our Read will be invited back again next year!

Our Read at the Just So Festival

We’ll be bringing a touch of the Central Asian desert to the woods of Staffordshire this Friday when we head off to the Just So Festival to read aloud from The Unforgotten Coat in a Mongolian yurt!

We’ll be bringing along two children from the Wirral to read with us and share the experience, and we want as many people as possible to enjoy the story so if you’re planning on coming then make sure you pay us a visit – you can pick up a free copy of the book and maybe even try reading aloud to the rest of the group! We’ll be doing readings at 1.30, 2.30 and 3.30pm so there will be plenty of opportunities to get involved or just sit back and enjoy a good story.

The festival runs from the 19th-21st of August and takes place in the woodlands of Barnswood, near Leek. It’s aimed at children and families and includes a number of creative activities and performances from across the arts, taking in music, cinema, dance and literature. We hope to see you there!

Our Read Summer Workshops

Yesterday saw the last of this year’s Our Read summer workshops, which were held at Toxteth Library and the nearby John Archer Hall with the help of The Haven Project, who support the emotional wellbeing of young asylum seekers and refugees. The workshops were open to everyone and were attended by children from the ages of six to sixteen, who were able to enjoy the great range of events and activities staged over the three weeks.

The sessions were loosely based on The Unforgotten Coat, Frank Cottrell Boyce‘s book about a Bootle schoolgirl who befriends two Mongolian brothers, which he kindly wrote for this year’s Our Read campaign. Activities included sampling food from around the world, making cakes and going on a treasure hunt around Toxteth Library, as well as a visit from Frank himself to read from the book and help with some creative writing exercises. The children were excited to meet Frank and especially thrilled when he signed a copy of the book for each child to take home.

We were also joined at one session by Carl Hunter and Clare Heney, whose photographs illustrate The Unforgotten Coat and who led the children in a photography workshop, during which they were encouraged to explore their environment using Polaroid and digital cameras. Other activities included a journey to Princes Park which concluded with a keenly-contested game of football, and things were topped off yesterday by a party at the John Archer Hall involving lots of exciting fun and games.

We hope everyone enjoyed the workshops, we certainly had a lot of fun putting them on and it was a great pleasure to meet so many lovely people. We’ll be back next year so watch this space to find out what we’ve got planned!

Chain Reading Comes To Toxteth

Chain Read

Tuesday 21st June, 3.00 – 4.30 pm

Toxteth Library

As part of our celebration of Refugee Week, we’re holding a chain read of The Unforgotten Coat, written exclusively for Our Read by award-winning author, Frank Cottrell Boyce. Join us at Toxteth Library on 21st June to hear the story of two refugee brothers from Mongolia, who arrive at a school in Bootle, and the experiences they share with their new friend and guide, Julie. You’ll also be able to pick up a free copy of the book to take home and share with friends and family.

The chain read is becoming a regular fixture in the Our Read calendar – take a look at what happened at our Light Night event, A Book and A Brew, and on World Book Day, when we launched Our Read with a mammoth 5-hour reading session at The Bluecoat!

This event is for people of all ages and everyone’s welcome, so why not come along?

Art Read? Our Read Heads to the TATE for World Perspectives

Saturday afternoon was particularly busy for TATE Liverpool this week, as visitors gathered for World Perspectives, an event to celebrate Liverpool’s rich and vibrant multiculturalism. Kicking off with a fantastic performance by DADA Live, which explored the themes of the Sense of Perspective exhibition, the afternoon also featured music from the Liverpool Chinese Youth Orchestra and a culinary tour around the Albert Dock (with lots of delicious free food!).

Our Read was also there, distributing copies of Frank Cottrell Boyce’s, The Unforgotten Coat. Joined by some new Our Readers and some familiar faces, we enjoyed a short reading from the book, followed by Our Read themed activities. Design your own Unforgotten Coat went down a little too well with some, with fantastical creations bordering on Joseph’s Technicolour Dreamcoat produced, whilst tackling the most difficult wordsearches ever created became a matter of pride for others!

Take a look at some of the pictures from the day.

Our Read Meets Chain Read

The rain may have poured but even the weather couldn’t dampen our spirits on Light Night, as we settled down in Brew for our Chain Read of The Unforgotten Coat. Warming ourselves up with steaming cups of tea, our group of Chain Readers took turns reading the story aloud, and it was really interesting to listen to the many different ways in which readers engaged with the story. The big surprise of the night was when Frank himself turned up and read to us! Everyone was so thrilled to meet him and to have the opportunity to ask questions about the book, taking advantage of the chance to get their books signed and photograph taken.

Those who participated had a fantastic time, and many of them loved the concept of the Chain Read, so much so that they were inspired to hold their own! I’m hoping to hear about an epidemic of Chain Reading across Liverpool very soon!

Many thanks to all our Chain Readers for making the night such a success.